- Museum number
Struck bronze medal. (whole)
Within an oval, depiction of the féderés carrying a banner bearing the cap of liberty, taking their oath before France, who sits on a pedestal holding up to them tablets on which are engraved the Rights of Man; inscription along left and right edge of oval; a portrait of Louis XVI is visible on the base of the pedestal. (obverse)
Six line inscription in field, with inscription in the exergue and around the edge. (reverse)
- Production date
Diameter: 39.500 millimetres
- Curator's comments
[This comment refers to: SSB,195.49, 1947,0607.590, SSB,195.51 and SSB,196.68].
By the beginning of the Revolution Boulton had expended a great deal of money and effort on applying steam power to coin production. Aware of the radical overhaul of the French monetary system undertaken by the National Assembly, in January 1791 he put forward a proposal to strike an entire new French coinage at the Soho Mint, from the confiscated French church bells, which he would melt down and refine. His initial approach, through John Motteux, put him in touch with the Monneron brothers and, although the government did not take up his proposals, the Monnerons were eager to launch a token coinage on their own account.
The design for the obverse of the five sol pieces was taken from the Dupré medal for the Pacte fédératif (1947,0607.565) which the Monneron brothers purchased. The oval of Dupré's medal is set within a circle containing the legend 'VIVRE LIBRES OU MOURIR'. The reverse, which was engraved by Noel-Alexandre Ponthon, a young French engraver working in Soho, reads 'REVOLUTION FRANÇAISE 1792' and, across the centre, 'MEDAILLE QUI SE VEND A PARIS CHEZ MONNERON/ PATENTÉ/ CINQ-SOLS'. Around the rim is engraved 'LA CONFIANCE AUGMENTE LA VALEUR'.
The Monneron brothers' tokens were initially very popular. They distributed over 11,000 livres worth, to a crowd so large that they had to call upon the cavalry to maintain order. The Monnerons' plans, which also included the issuing of a series of patriotic medals three of which, the 'Serment du roi', 'Rousseau' and 'Lafayette', were struck at the Soho Mint, were disrupted by their bankruptcy in March 1792. Augustin Monneron, however, continued in business. Over forty tons of tokens were shipped to France in July and a new design, Hercules failing to break a bundle of sticks, was adopted for the five sols medals. This too was taken from an earlier design by Augustin Dupré, for a jeton for the merchants of Paris.
In September 1792 the National Assembly forbade the import or issue of private tokens and, although Boulton continued work on a new Republican token, showing Hercules breaking the symbols of monarchy on one side, with the inscription 'LA SAGESSE GUIDE SA FORCE/ LA FIN DU DESPOTISME', and on the other side a pyramid labelled 'RESPUBLICA GALLIA ANNO l/ AERE PERENNIUS/ 1792' (SSB,196.68), until January 1793, no further shipments were made.
Literature: Richard Margolis, Matthew Boulton's French ventures of 1791 and 1792: Tokens for the Monneron Brothers of Paris, 'British Numismatic Journal', 1988, vol. 58.
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Associated Event: French Revolution (1789)
- Acquisition date
- Coins and Medals
- Registration number